Read­ing ace Atkins rar­ing to go after Scots call-up

The Hockey Paper - - FEATURE - By Dave Wright

TIM ATKINS has worked his way into the Scot­land squad and is de­ter­mined to make a suc­cess of it.

“Playing at in­ter­na­tional level is a new thing for me,” the Read­ing star ad­mit­ted. “It is a great op­por­tu­nity and I am re­ally look­ing for­ward to playing for Scot­land.”

Atkins was born in Ox­ford, but qual­i­fies for Scot­land through his mother’s side of the fam­ily and has his Read­ing HC col­league, Tommy Alexander, to thank for open­ing the door for him.

“I hadn’t given it much thought, but Tommy had been do­ing some ju­nior stuff in Scot­land. He was talk­ing to their of­fi­cials and one thing led to an­other and I got in­volved on the back of that,” said Atkins, who lives and works in Lon­don.

“I joined up with them around last Septem­ber, did some train­ing with then them and played a cou­ple of un­of­fi­cial games. Since then there has been lots and lots of train­ing, so I hope that will pay off for me.”

With sev­eral of Derek Forsyth’s Blue Sticks squad based in Lon­don, it is not al­ways pos­si­ble for all the play­ers to train to­gether, but they cer­tainly don’t get let off.

Atkins ex­plains: “We do quite a lot of stuff that is re­mote, which is quite in­ter­est­ing. We were sent down some GPS sys­tems that track our ses­sions in way of fit­ness.

“But as we build up to each tour­na­ment we get to­gether more and more.”

This week Scot­land are in Barcelona for three matches against Rus­sia and the play­ers will be meet­ing up again later this month in Glas­gow for fur­ther train­ing.

Atkins con­tin­ued: “Next month we are in France and I think we are due to play games against a GB side. Then that’s fol­lowed by the World League 2 in Ire­land which is cool.”

Scot­land’s op­po­nents in Belfast will in­clude the host na­tion and Wales, which could well mean Atkins be­ing up against cur­rent and former Read­ing team-mates.

He added: “There are also the Eu­ros 2 in Glas­gow in Au­gust, so hope­fully I will be part of that, and Scot­land are also look­ing to qual­ify for the World Cup and the Com­mon­wealth Games, which is on the Gold Coast in Aus­tralia.

“Scot­tish Hockey has a lot to look for­ward to and I want to be part of it.”

The 26-year-old de­fender would re­ally en­joy re­turn­ing to Aus­tralia, as he played some State hockey in Melbourne four years ago.

“Playing in Aus­tralia was re­ally good ex­pe­ri­ence for me,” com­mented Atkins, who also a short spell with Rich­mond.

“I was also at Bath when at uni (the Univer­sity of the West of Eng­land), but I then went back to Read­ing, hav­ing started there when I was 16 or 17 and since then my hockey has kicked on.”

Atkins, an am­bas­sador for Di­a­betes UK, is also pre­par­ing for Su­per Sixes Day with Read­ing at Wem­b­ley Arena on Jan­uary 29.

“We have done re­ally well to get there, as I don’t think we were ex­pect­ing too much at the start of the league be­cause we were miss­ing some big names in our squad,” he com­mented.

“But we got our­selves into a re­ally good po­si­tion come the last day. We should have beaten Sevenoaks (7-7 draw after Read­ing had led 7-3) and that put us un­der a pres­sure go­ing into our fi­nal game with East Grin­stead and we did re­ally well against them (win­ning 10-8).

“So, all in all, with the Su­per Sixes and the Scot­land games, it is prov­ing quite an ex­cit­ing Jan­uary for me and I will try to get the most out of it.”

Atkins joins goal­keeper Rory Kerr (Kel­burne), Ben Cos­grove (Grove Men­zieshill) and Nick Samra as new­com­ers in Derek Forsyth’s squad, al­though the Scots will be with­out top striker Kenny Bain for the trip to North­ern Ire­land due to club com­mit­ments with Rot­ter­dam.

Call-up: Tim Atkins

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